HomeMusicThe 10 Worst Things About Eminem's 'Revival'

The 10 Worst Things About Eminem’s ‘Revival’

Eminem Revival

I am an Eminem fan.  I am not an Eminem “Stan.”  I remember when he was in The Source’s “Unsigned Hype” column, I bought The Slim Shady LP (and every subsequent release) on the day it was released and thoroughly enjoyed 8 Mile on opening weekend, but I’m not such a “Stan” that I adamantly defend everything Marshall Mathers releases and argue that he can “Walk on Water.”

Since its’ release on December 15, Revival has been nearly universally panned by critics, fans and social media and I hate to kick a great artist when they are down, but as a fan of Eminem’s entire catalog, here are ten ways that Revival fails…

1.“Is it over yet?”

With 19 tracks and well over an hour’s worth of music, Revival is too long for its’ own good.  Even for the greats, Hip-Hop double albums have always been hit (Biggie) and miss (Jay-Z), but where an artist like B.I.G. made a long runtime palatable by incorporating a wide range of styles, moods, guests, beats, etc.  Eminem relentlessly rehashes the same vibe and subject matter over way too many songs for anybody but “Super Stans” to tolerate in one sitting.

2.“Haven’t we heard this already?” 

Just about twenty years into his major label career and Eminem is still rapping about his wife, his daughter, his drug addiction, his mother, etc.  All of these are obviously great song topics and he gives fans a deeper look into his personal life than almost any other artist, but he’s done it before…multiple times.

3. “Somebody call a doctor!!!”

Eminem is a phenomenal MC with or without Dr. Dre, but it’s universally accepted that his best work and biggest hits were made with the good doctor behind the boards. The combination of Em’s underground sensibilities and Dre’s ear for crossover potential created some of the biggest songs of the 00’s.  Without Dre, most of Eminem’s music is technically impressive, but not very enjoyable.

4. “Didn’t you used to say?”

Many songs on “Revival” address subjects like institutionalized racism, police brutality and the Trump administration.  While all of these are clearly important topics in today’s political climate, it’s hard to take somebody’s “woke-ness” seriously when they have based a career on hating women, homophobia and constantly mocking disabled people.  Sure, Em should be allowed to mature as man and artist, but when he was being openly derogatory towards homosexuals as late as 2013 (“Rap God”), some of his progressive political opinions will ring hollow.

5. “Pop-Rap can be fun…this isn’t” 

There’s nothing wrong with pop-rap.  Artists like The Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rida and Pitbull have provided he soundtrack to countless weddings, sweet 16’s and graduation parties by combining Hip-Hop with pop.  Unfortunately, the onetime hero of the underground has decided to start releasing pop songs with his verses laid between chorus by Pink, Alicia Keys and Ed Sheeran and the results are mostly sad, depressing and not at all fun.

6. “Can the boy in the bubble rap about the world?” 

In the history of music, no artist has continued to reach artistic peaks when they are prisoners of their own fame.  Musicians like Elvis Pressley, Michael Jackson, Brittany Spears and Kanye West have all seen their art suffer once they were too famous to live anything vaguely resembling a “normal life.” This is amplified for an artist like Eminem that has made a career rhyming about the world at large.  If the lyrics, references, choice of guest artists and production all sound like they were made by an artist with absolutely no connection to the current Hip-Hop climate, it’s because they were

7. “This can’t really be the tracklist!”

The “Revival” track list leaked a few weeks before release and fans took to social media to express frustration and confusion about why Em was collaborating with several pop stars he would have openly ridiculed in the early 00’s and zero features from any of the artists signed to Shady/Aftermath (Where’s Westside Gunn & Conway? No Slaughterhouse?) or even unrelated rappers that are hot now (No Cole? No Kendrick? No Big Sean?).  Some of Shady’s best songs have come when working with other great artists and there’s clearly none of that happening here.

8. “Is there a new Eminem album coming out”

Until now, even Eminem haters had to admit that the Interscope/Aftermath/Shady machine had perfected the promotional rollout of his albums, this is clearly no longer the case.  With a cryptic online clock, odd merchandise, no videos and two lead singles that failed to find an audience, the rollout of “Revival” was lackluster at best and with the exception of his freestyle at the BET Awards there was almost nothing positioning Eminem back in the pop culture conversation that would put this album in a position to be successful.

9. “He can still rap, but…”

Eminem is great rapper. Period.

Anybody with any knowledge of the genre will admit that, but sometime around 2010’s Relapse he continued to improve as a lyricist while ignoring almost every other part of being an artist (song writing, production, music videos, etc.). This has produced a decade’s worth of music that is technically impressive but not necessarily an enjoyable listening experience.  Most of his creative output this decade has been like watching gymnastics in the Olympics, it clearly took a lot of skill, talent and hard work, but you don’t really need to experience more than every four years.

10. “But what about…”

“Revival” addresses a lot of current issues (see above), but it also ignores a lot of things it would be cool to hear Eminem address.  The widespread acceptance of white rappers and his role in this shift, the current state of his hometown of Detroit both musically and socially, what’s happening with Shady/Aftermath and the artists signed to the label and the question of where does a pure lyricist like Em fit in a world where mumble rappers like Future and Lil Uzi Vert are running the game? Are largely ignored.

While Revival is not the album longtime fans wanted, there is still hope that Marshall Mathers can lose himself the next time around and release another classic that places him back in the “Top 5: Dead or Alive” conversation, but we’re going to have to wait a few years to find out.

Angelo Gingerelli
Angelo Gingerellihttp://fifthroundmovement.com/
Angelo Gingerelli has been contributing to The Pop Break since 2015 and writing about pop culture since 2009. A Jersey shore native, Gingerelli is a writer, stand-up comic, hip-hop head, sneaker enthusiast, comic book fan, husband, father and supporter of the local arts scene. He likes debating the best rappers of all time, hates discussing why things were better in the “Good Ol’ Days” and loves beating The Pop Break staff at fantasy football. You can catch up with Angelo on Twitter/IG at https://twitter.com/Mr5thround, at his website www.FifthRoundMovement.com or interviewing rising stars in NJ’s Hip-Hop scene on “The A&R Podcast” (iTunes/SoundCloud).


  1. I hope we don’t wait too long. Eminem is the greatest (and I say that without “all time,” but even so, he’s great; he’s a wizard, a skill champion), but I do love his old stuff and see how his new stuff doesn’t compare, songwriting-wise. Even so, his new stuff is technically impressive (though I hate the way he relies on puns, these days, which can be good, and go four ways at once, but still, there was a day when Eminem wrote good poetry, full of open metaphors and such [“Until we walk around, looking like some windup dolls,” to describe addiction]; now all we get are good rap lyrics, metrically, and only some lines that really feel it, which is the true meaning of depth and multifunctionality, how many ways it makes meaning, not how many ways the particular word can work in a sentence), and I will always buy it. How good the rhymes are still blows everyone else out of the water, but what we need is poetry, and then we will have a good album. That said, I thought MMLP2 was severely underrated and one of Eminem’s best by far, both poetically and rappingly; also, the beats were good, or they worked for me. The album worked as a whole. This one has a lot of good stuff in it, and I’ll keep it around, but I can’t wait for the next one.

    • Matt, Thanks for checking out the article and your feedback. He’s such a talented MC, I’m def hoping for more on the next album.

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